Summary and book reviews of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

by Michael Chabon

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon X
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 636 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2001, 656 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A serious but never solemn novel about the American comic book's Golden Age, from the late 1930's to the early 1950s. 2001 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction.

Winner of the 2001 Pulitzer Prize.

With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth's American Pastoral or Don DeLillo's Underworld, Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a superb novel with epic sweep, spanning continents and eras, a masterwork by one of America's finest writers.

It is New York City in 1939. Joe Kavalier, a young artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just pulled off his greatest feat to date: smuggling himself out of Nazi-occupied Prague. He is looking to make big money, fast, so that he can bring his family to freedom. His cousin, Brooklyn's own Sammy Clay, is looking for a collaborator to create the heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit the American dreamscape: the comic book. Out of their fantasies, fears, and dreams, Joe and Sammy weave the legend of that unforgettable champion the Escapist. And inspired by the beautiful and elusive Rosa Saks, a woman who will be linked to both men by powerful ties of desire, love, and shame, they create the otherworldly mistress of the night, Luna Moth. As the shadow of Hitler falls across Europe and the world, the Golden Age of comic books has begun.

The brilliant writing that has led critics to compare Michael Chabon to John Cheever and Vladimir Nabokov is everywhere apparent in The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Chabon writes "like a magical spider, effortlessly spinning out elaborate webs of words that ensnare the reader," wrote Michiko Kakutani of The New York Times about Wonder Boys--and here he has created, in Joe Kavalier, a hero for the century.

Part One
The Escape Artist

In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier's greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini. "To me, Clark Kent in a phone booth and Houdini in a packing crate, they were one and the same thing," he would learnedly expound at WonderCon or Angouleme or to the editor of Comics Journal. "You weren't the same person when you came out as when you went in. Houdini's first magic act, you know, back when he was just getting started. It was called 'Metamorphosis': It was never just a question of escape. It was also a question of transformation." The truth was that, as a kid, Sammy had only a casual interest, at best, in Harry Houdini and his legendary feats; his great heroes were Nikola Tesla, Louis...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
This discussion guide will assist readers in exploring The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Hopefully, it will help create a bond not only between the book and the reader, but also between the members of the reading group. In your support of this book, please feel free to copy and distribute this guide to best facilitate your reading program.

About This Book

With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth's American Pastoral or ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Time Magazine - R..Z. Sheppard
Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures Kavalier Clay is a serious but never solemn novel about the American comic book's Golden Age, from the late 1930's to the early 1950s.

New York Times Book Review
The depth of Chabon’s thought, his sharp language, his inventiveness and his ambition make this a novel of towering achievement. ...the themes are masterfully explored, leaving the book's sense of humor intact and characters so highly developed they could walk off the page...Chabon has pulled off another great feat.

New York Magazine
I'm not sure what the exact definition of a great American novel is, but I'm pretty sure that Michael Chabon's sprawling, idiosyncratic, and wrenching new book is one.

The Advocate
…dazzling and delightful…

Reader Reviews

Andy

It's great! A very good twist of the elements of metafiction, science fiction, and realism.
Barry G.

An amazing blend of genres, from an historical novel to pop culture. The book is wonderfully written, with descriptions of time and place that put you right there. My only criticism is that, at 639 pages, it is a bit long and, thus, somewhat ...   Read More
cita

AMAZING.
I spent the entire night just reading, could´t stop.
anna k

An excellent book, an intricate and interesting plot. The characters are sympathetic; even when you disagree with their actions, you identify with their motivations. Great ending, not fairy-tale perfect but reassuring.

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Michael Chabon

If you liked The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, try these:

  • The Orchard jacket

    The Orchard

    by David Hopen

    Published 2021

    About this book

    A commanding debut and a poignant coming-of-age story about a devout Jewish high school student whose plunge into the secularized world threatens everything he knows of himself.

  • The Lost Book of Adana Moreau jacket

    The Lost Book of Adana Moreau

    by Michael Zapata

    Published 2021

    About this book

    The mesmerizing story of a Latin American science fiction writer and the lives her lost manuscript unites decades later in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes

Books with similar themes


Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Seek You
    Seek You
    by Kristen Radtke
    In the first pages of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke's sophomore ...
  • Book Jacket: The Man Who Hated Women
    The Man Who Hated Women
    by Amy Sohn
    If debates over women's reproductive health seem stuck in an earlier era — the fact that birth...
  • Book Jacket: The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
    The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois
    by Honorée Fannone Jeffers
    Honorée Fannone Jeffers' The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois explores the Black experience in ...
  • Book Jacket: Beautiful World, Where Are You
    Beautiful World, Where Are You
    by Sally Rooney
    Beautiful World, Where Are You centers around four key characters, the most prominent of which are ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
In Every Mirror She's Black
by Lola Akinmade Akerstrom
An arresting debut for anyone looking for insight into what it means to be a Black woman in the world.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Last Chance Library
    by Freya Sampson

    Fans of libraries and heartfelt, humorous fiction won't want to miss this one!

  • Book Jacket

    Never Saw Me Coming
    by Vera Kurian

    "Fun, entertaining and hard to put down."
    The New York Journal of Books

Win This Book!
Win A Most Clever Girl

A Most Clever Girl by Stephanie Marie Thornton

A thrilling novel of love and espionage, based on the incredible true story of a Cold War double agent.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

Run T G

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.